Sexual assault prevention training. A ticketing app without all the hassle and markups of Ticketmaster. Car detailing right at your doorstep.
These were just some of the ideas at Spark Tank 2023, sponsored by the Colin and Erika Angle Center for Entrepreneurship with support from Cummings Foundation. The Shark Tank-like competition, held during Endicott College’s Spring Week, drew a record number of applicants, according to Angle Center Executive Director Gina Deschamps.
“No one could have imagined that Spark Tank would grow to become one of the largest competitions north of Boston,” said Deschamps. “This competition is proof that when like minds gather, unbelievable things can happen.”
“This competition is about human beings and what the power of thought, innovation, leadership, and challenges all come together to produce new ideas and new opportunities and solve problems,” echoed Endicott College President Steven R. DiSalvo, Ph.D.
The rules are simple: Entrepreneurs (students, alumni, or any members of the Endicott community) have three minutes to present their pitch, value propositions, and business plan. The guest judges—Tim Collins, Founder and CEO of EBSCO; Kate Morgan, Founder of BostonHCP; and Radhames Nova, President and CEO of Junior Achievement—are allowed one question.
This year’s Spark Tank saw two previous contenders come back for another shot at glory.
Mya Kermelewicz ’21 M’22 returned to secure funding for her growing sexual assault prevention education business, MK Prevention Services. Her enterprise has grown significantly since she graduated with an MBA in 2022, and Kermelewicz said she is now ready to hire and expand.
“What I want to focus on today is my yearly programming, because no other organization has this right now, and people are noticing,” said Kermelewicz, who placed third in the 2022 competition. “My main goal is to create safe and empowered communities. And what better way to do that than to be in schools every single month, working with students, staff, parents, and community members? This is based off the Title IX amendment in the Clery Act, which will assist in the prevention of sexual assault and dating violence on campuses.”
Sport management major Will Perry ’23 again presented the case for his volleyball activewear business Drop Dimes Co. alongside business marketing major Ryan Atkins ’23.
“Our signature athletic shorts are made to quickly dry and move very easily, so you can go from the beach to the opposite of the classroom and then back again on a good day without even changing,” said Perry, who noted that over the past year, the company partnered with professional volleyball player Dustin Watten and saw a 350% growth in sales.
Fortunately, their repeat performance paid off—Kermelewicz placed second in the competition while Drop Dimes placed third, nabbing $3,000 and $2,000 in funds, respectively.
Among other businesses to pitch their dream were Eli Wilson ’25 and his venture, Tick3t Tree, an affordable ticketing option with NFT incentives; Social Cue, the brainchild of Matt Cronin ’22 M’23 and Connor Ross ’22 M’23, which helps people find nightlife and activities nearby; Empower: Women’s Sports, a women’s sports streaming app from Charlotte Spies ’24 and Celia Mastromattei ’24; and J&R Rewards Service, a car detailing service that comes to you, by Ryan Archer ’24 and Joe Akisik ’24.
Meanwhile, first place went to a common device made better, thanks to engineering students Noah Therrien ’23, Zach Mazur ’23, Nate Mousseau ’23, and Clay Stocker ’23. Together, they are the founders of WeighMaster Nets, “a two-in-one fishing net that can instantly weigh a fish when it is put in the net,” explained Therrien.
The group got the idea from Mazur’s uncle, a professional fisherman who was lamenting the shortcomings of commercial nets, including inaccuracies, delays, and even inadvertently killing the fish.
“We’re engineers, so we have to tell you how it works,” explained Stocker. “We use strain gauge technology. Imagine you're in a bathroom and you stepped on a scale. That downward pressure gives you a reading. We use the same downward pressure to give you a reading on our net.”
With the $10,000 prize, the group plans to flood the market and enter stores like Cabela’s and Dick’s Sporting Goods.
“This was a culmination of this group’s effort throughout the year,” said Stocker of the win. “We have experienced our fair share of setbacks, but we persevered and created a great product. It means so much to me to represent the Engineering Department, and to let other engineering students know that we have a shot on the business side as well.”
This year also marks a first in the Spark Tank competition—the WeighMaster Nets group will head to Cork, Ireland, this summer to work with a group of in-house startups and entrepreneurs at the Rubicon Centre at Munster Technological University.
“I have personally never left the country, so this opportunity will be an amazing first chance to see more of the world,” Stocker added. “Our team is planning to come together after graduation, really immerse ourselves into expanding our project, and make Endicott proud.”